TN 1 (03-06)

PR 01320.006 California

A. PR 05-009 OPINION: Effect of Adoption Set-Aside on Entitlement to Child’s Insurance Benefits Cody K~, SSN ~ No. 09-2004-009

DATE: September 30, 2004

1. SYLLABUS

In California cases, there is no distinction between a judgment "setting aside" an adoption and an annulment of that adoption. The effective date of the judgment setting aside an adoption is the date the judgment is entered (unless the judgment sets forth a different date). The claimant's entitlement to child's benefits on his adoptive father's Social Security record would terminate as of the effective date of the judgment setting aside the adoption.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether the effective date of a judgment setting aside claimant's adoption, for purposes of Claimant's entitlement to child's insurance benefits (CIB), was the date of the judgment or the date of the adoption decree.

ANSWER

The effective date of the judgment setting aside an adoption is the date the judgment is entered (unless the judgment sets forth a different date). Claimant's entitlement to CIB on his adoptive father's Social Security record would terminate as of the effective date of the judgment setting aside an adoption.

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE

Claimant was born on April 17, 1992 in the State of California. Claimant's natural grandparents, Ray E. K~ and Wanda L. K~ (hereinafter, grandparents), petitioned the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Tulare (hereinafter, the state court) for the adoption of Claimant from his natural mother and father, Dena Carol L~ (hereinafter, natural mother) and John E. H~. The state court granted Claimant's grandparents' petition for adoption in a Decree of Independent Adoption filed on April 27, 1998.

The available evidence in this case indicates that Claimant's adoptive father, who became entitled to Social Security disability insurance benefits in April of 1991, filed an application for child's insurance benefits for Claimant as his adopted child on April 27, 1998. Claimant became entitled to benefits as his adopted child in May of 1998. The state court set aside the adoption decree and restored Claimant's natural mother's parental rights in a judgment apparently filed on August 4, 2000. Child's insurance benefits on Claimant's adoptive father's Social Security record have since ceased, and Claimant has been receiving benefits on his natural mother's Social Security record.

We have been unable to obtain a complete and fully-legible copy of the state court judgment apparently filed on August 4, 2000, and have proceeded on the assumption that the adoption was legally set aside and that the judgment was actually signed and entered. However, as noted below, we recommend obtaining a complete copy of the judgment to verify actual entry and the effective date of the judgment.

ANALYSIS

The state court set aside the 1998 adoption decree as to Claimant's natural mother and restored her parental rights to Claimant in the judgment filed on August 4, 2000. The effect of setting aside an adoption decree is the termination of a status created by the decree. Adoption of Sewall, 242 Cal.App. 2d 208, 220, 51 Cal.Rptr. 367, 377 (1966). (As stated, we have been unable to obtain a complete and legible copy of the state court judgment apparently filed on August 4, 2000. Although the bases for the state court's judgment are unclear from the copy received, as noted, we have proceeded on the assumption that the adoption was legally set aside.) According to the Program Operations Manual System (POMS), [e]ntitlement to a child's benefit based on legal adoption will terminate if the adoption is annulled, and the effective date of the termination to benefits is the month in which the annulment becomes effective.( POMS RS 00203.035B.3.) In regard to the effective date of the set-aside judgment, we know of no practical difference or legal distinction, pertinent here, between a judgment to set aside an adoption and an annulment of the adoption. Therefore, the provision of POMS appears to be the closest instruction we have with respect to termination of child's insurance benefits in the adoption set-aside context. Claimant's adoption was set aside on the effective date of the state court's judgment, and therefore entitlement to child's insurance benefits ceased in the month in which the adoption was set aside.

CONCLUSION

Entitlement to child's insurance benefits on Claimant's adoptive father's Social Security record terminates on the effective date of the state court judgment setting aside the adoption. The effective date of the state court judgment is the date of entry, unless the court specifies a different date. However, we recommend obtaining a complete copy of the judgment to confirm the actual date of entry of the judgment and the effective date. Claimant is not entitled to child's insurance benefits on his adoptive father's Social Security record after the effective date of the state court judgment, because Claimant is no longer his adopted child, as defined under ' 402(d) of the Social Security Act and 20 C.F.R. ' 404.358(b) (2004).


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1501320006
PR 01320.006 - California - 03/29/2006
Batch run: 01/27/2009
Rev:03/29/2006